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Florida’s Ninth Amendment forces voters to choose between two obscure decisions

Jessica May

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Florida voters who support offshore drilling but aren’t fans of vaping will face a dilemma this November.

It would make sense for many to vote on the issue of offshore oil and gas drilling and vaping indoors separately, but this 2018 midterm election Florida voters will have to vote on these issues on the same amendment.

The amendment reads, “Prohibits drilling for the exploration or extraction of oil and natural gas beneath all state-owned waters between the mean high-water line and the state’s outermost territorial boundaries. Adds use of vapor-generating electronic devices to current prohibition of tobacco smoking in enclosed indoor workplaces with exceptions; permits more restrictive local vapor ordinances.”

The stacking of this amendment forces Florida voters to vote in one way on two different topics. Michael Binder, professor of political science, said, “Most states have single-issue requirements for ballot measures, and if you look at the ‘normal’ amendments, citizen initiatives and legislatively referred amendments, they are single issue.”

“These weird combined issue amendments came from the Constitution Revision Commission. They had a ton of proposals, it got whittled down, but instead of putting 20 plus ballot measures on, they combined them under the guise that they are related,” Binder said.

Oil and Gas Drilling

Oil and gas drilling has been a controversial topic since companies started looking for natural resources offshore. If Floridians vote in favor of this amendment, drilling for oil and natural gas will be prohibited within three miles of the shoreline.

This may be relevant to Florida voters who  remember the devastation the BP oil spill caused to Florida’s and Louisiana’s Gulf coasts in April of 2010. The rig’s cement seal broke releasing 3.1 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico over the span of 87 days.

According John W. Farrington, author of  Oil Pollution in the Marine Environment, “Compilations of lethal toxicity concentrations for representative oils are available, and effects can vary from one to the next and among and between species of organisms.”

Investors in oil companies and politicians who benefit from the deregulation of oil are some of the people who do not want to see offshore oil and natural gas drilling become more difficult.

Florida’s governor Republican candidate Ron DeSantis supports the idea of banning offshore drilling to protect Florida’s beaches. “Florida has seen firsthand the dangers that offshore drilling can bring to our beaches and shorelines,” DeSantis said.

Alongside DeSantis, the Democratic candidate for Florida’s governor Andrew Gillum also is publicly opposed to offshore drilling. “We need renewable forms of energy,” Gillum said. “We are obsessed with fossil fuels and throwback technologies. Florida ought to be leading the rest of the country, not going backward.”

Vaping

If this amendment is passed, vaping, or the use of an electronic-cigarette will be prohibited from being used in indoor workspaces. The use of electronic-cigarettes have been unclear from the start with place-bans and unofficial rules from various places. This has lead to consumers being confused as to where they can use electronic-cigarettes.

Alex Clark, Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives (CASAA) legislative coordinator,said, “‘Place bans, vaping bans and smoke-free laws that include vaping are a form of structural communication that sends the inaccurate message to the public that e-cigarettes are just as harmful as smoking.”  

The CASAA is a group advocating for the use of electronic-cigarettes and vaping, including indoor spaces. Clark said, “Smoking bans are enacted to protect the public from the harm of secondhand smoke. But, vapor products have not been found to pose a risk to bystanders.”

Julie Collins from Tobacco-free Jacksonville finds vaping to be addictive and damaging, just as cigarettes would be. Collins said, “Vaping is addictive and can contain cancer-causing substances, such as formaldehyde and mercury.”

Collins said, “In addition to nicotine, e-cigarette vapors contain potentially toxic substances which are solvent byproducts released in the vapor and trace constituents of the flavoring additives.”

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Florida’s Ninth Amendment forces voters to choose between two obscure decisions